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Thursday, January 31, 2008

At Least It's not Rudy

With Giuliani's official withdrawal from the presidential race yesterday, Catholics Against Rudy can say, "Mission Accomplished." And Steve Dillard has our critical next step (after the appropriate "thank you's"):
[P]lease pray that whoever ultimately becomes the next president of the United
States will use that office to acknowlege (sic) and protect the inherent
dignity of all life, from conception until natural death.

Amen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

If the Minnesota Caucus Were Held Yesterday

My father-in-law sent me a link to a quiz at vajoe.com to help compare the various candidates and determine how well they agree with me on some bellweather issues. The overall rating is based on percent agreement, including some weighting, so it doesn't quite take into account things like the importance on the five non-negotiables. I've taken it a few times, adjusting mostly the weighting, but the results have pretty well settled down now and are pretty consistent with how I view the candidates in the main. Of those still in the race, here is the order and % agreement:
 
1. (tie) Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney - 84.31%
3. Ron Paul - 76.47%
4. John McCain - 72.55%
5. Rudy Giuliani - 61.76%
 
*** Sidebar
 
For the record, the candidate with whom I would have been most aligned is Sam Brownback (98.04%). I'd like to see him try for governor of Kansas to get a bit better pedigree as an executive and have another go sometime.
 
*** End sidebar
 
So for whom would I have caucused last night? Huckabee. I'd really like to go with Romney, but his incomplete conversion on life prevents it, unless both Huck and Paul drop out before Tuesday. At least that was my thinking as of yesterday afternoon. Giuliani's pending endorsement of McCain and tonight's debate could change that.
 
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Speech Pre-game

Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas
 
The word is that President Bush's final State of the Union puts initial focus on domestic issues and the economy, in particular, which means plugging the unstimulating stimulus package.
 
The lens through which I will be looking, however, is colored by the solidarity of his second inaugural. The spin on morning talk radio today was that the president intends to sprint to the finish. But is it in the same direction in which he started his second term?
 
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Florida

What the heck, I'll make a prediction. McCain will win and Rudy will do better than everyone thinks because such a high percentage of votes were already cast before Romney's surge (and Giuliani's free fall) in the polls began.
 
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Kind of Interesting Stat From Michigan

Happy Birthday Troglotyke #5!

A little post-primary handicapping to add to the white noise...

There's plenty of chatter on the exit polling from Michigan and whether Romney's convincing win last night will play in other states. There was one tidbit that caught my eye.

Among "Born Again" or Evangelical Christians:

Romney - 34%
Huckabee - 29%
McCain - 23%

If not a chink in Huckabee's armor, then this should at least put an end to the idea of monolithic evangelicals across the country. Peter Wehner described the latest "transformation" of Evangelicals last month in National Review, the gist of it being that a renewed focus on the mission of Christ may be swinging them away from a quasi-formal political alliance with the Republican party, something I have personally noted is not limited to evangelicals.

Regarding Mr. Huckabee specifically, the transference of evangelical Protestants to him that occurred in Iowa, and that has become boilerplate analysis since then, continues to be challenged by not only Romney's win yesterday, but by reservations expressed recently by American Values president and former presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, although his reservations are policy-related and not theological (HHT: NRO). Nonetheless, I would not be surprised to see South Carolina, where it is a four-man race today, confirm this lack of an evangelical bloc.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Fed Cut Coming, or Blowing a Bigger Bubble

From WaPo:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke ... signaled that the central bank will cut interest rates aggressively to try to prevent a serious economic downturn, using unusually direct and forceful language.
 
In the past two weeks, new evidence has emerged that the United States is at risk of entering a recession. Just yesterday the nation's largest retail chains reported weak December sales, and credit card companies American Express and Capital One said they are seeing more unpaid bills.
 
In a speech in Washington, Bernanke said fed policymakers "must remain exceptionally alert and flexible, prepared to act in a decisive and timely manner and, in particular, to counter any adverse dynamics that might threaten economic or financial stability."
 
Bernanke, in his first public comments of 2008, said that "additional policy easing may well be necessary."
Bubbles are created, or expanded, whenever a central authority arbitrarily influences business profitability apart from productivity. This is one thing Ron Paul got correct at last night's South Carolina debate, although I'm not willing to concede a recession has started already:
CHRIS WALLACE: Congressman Paul, do you support a government program to stimulate the economy?
 
RON PAUL: Well, a government program is too vague. What kind of a government program?
 
If it's appropriating money and trying to stimulate that way and spend more money, no, that would be the wrong thing to do. But a government program of a -- of a reduced tax burden, yes, that would be.
 
Also, to solve this problem, you have to understand why we're in a recession. I believe we're in a recession. I think it's going to get a lot worse if we continue to do the wrong things that we've done in the past, that it's going to be delayed, just as what happened in the Depression.
 
But you have to understand that over-stimulation in an economy by artificially low interest rates by the Federal Reserve is the source of the recession.
 
The recession has been predictable. We just don't know exactly when it will come.
If you do the wrong thing, it's going to last for a long time. The boom period comes when they just pour out easy credit and it teaches people to do the wrong things. There's a lot of malinvestment, debt that goes in the wrong direction, consumers who do the wrong things, and businessmen who do the wrong thing.
 
So we have to attack this and understand the importance of Austrian theory of the business cycle. If you don't, we're going to continue to do this and the longer you delay the recession, the worse the recession is, and we've delayed a serious recession for a long time.
 
The housing market's already in depression and a lot of people are hurt and the standing of living in this country is going down. Look at what's happening to the dollar.
 
And what is being offered by the Federal Reserve and Treasury and everybody in Washington? Lower interest rates. Well, lower interest rates is the problem. Artificially low interest rates is the artificial stimulus which causes the bubble, which allows the inevitable recession to come.
 
So what we need to do is deal with monetary policy and not pretend that artificial stimulus by more spending is going to help. That won't do you one bit of good.
For those who would dismiss out of hand Mr. Paul's allusion to the Great Depression, consider this from Glenn Beck this week:
Well, the last time we had an election like this was 1928. 2008 is the first time since 1928 that there is no incumbent President or incumbent vice president running for either of the presidential nomination or not running in the presidential election...
 
In 1928 the economy was going strong. There were some signs and people were saying, wait a minute, hang on, there are some problems here. But the roaring '20s were still roaring. Much of the credit was given to [Republican nominee and eventual winner, Herbert] Hoover. He was the secretary of congress in Coolidge's administration. Voters weren't thinking about the debt. They weren't thinking about economic collapse. Those in Florida that had purchased all of the land in Florida by the water, Florida started to become a boom and everybody was saying, oh, look, here it comes. And what happened? Right around the corner the economy collapsed. By the way, today we are still in the official longest economic expansion where billions of dollars of wealth have been created. Housing prices, if you look at what happened in the 1920s in Florida alone and what's happening right now in 2008 in Florida alone for the housing market, it's damn near the same thing...

Religion in 1928 was also a major factor. Democratic nominee for president was Alfred Smith. His mistake, the reason why you don't know Alfred Smith, the reason why he didn't make it to be President is his mistake was to be Roman Catholic. He was the first Roman Catholic to run for the presidency. It turns out America wasn't ready for a Roman Catholic. ... Today can we say Mitt Romney.
 
And the best thing is because the roaring '20s, the rich got richer. Remember in 1929 the rich were about to throw themselves out of windows because the rich were also stupid. As the rich got richer in the 1920s, everybody was starting to say, wait a minute, hang on just a second; this socialism thing seems to be working over in Russia. This was before they really knew what was going on. In the 1920s all of these Fabian movement people, all these people, the Progressives, were going over to Russia and studying what was happening over there. They would come back and they would say, okay, sure, there's a lot of blood in the street, but this is a good system. And they started to sew the seeds of federal government needs to be bigger. Remember, fascism was on the rise. 1928, government should be bigger, government should help flood victims. The rich shouldn't be as rich. Remember they were about to become very, very broke. The rich shouldn't be rich.

You've probably heard Herbert Hoover's slogan but you've only heard half of it most likely. The half you heard is a chicken in every pot. Vote for Herbert Hoover and you'll have a chicken in every pot. But that was only half of it. It was a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. A car was starting to be a right. Only the rich could have a car. The roaring '20s were only happening for the rich. Why not a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot. That was 1928. 

... You better study 1928 because here it comes. I think this is exactly what happened in 1928 is about to happen to us as well.
Well, we'll see, of course, because this is all speculation. But if you're in the market, you might want to start raising cash.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire Primary

A little mildly entertaining early January theater for your political pleasure.
 
Predictions? I'd go trendy with Obama and McCain.
 
Relevance to the nomination? I dunno. Maybe check with Paul Tsongas (or at least his Mrs.), Gary Hart, Pat Buchanan, and Oh! John McCain.
 
Actually, the NH primary as an indicator for the party's nomination is 50% accurate for the Democrats in contested races since 1952 and and 64% for Republicans in contested races since 1948. Enjoy the show.
 
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Miscarriage of Justice

Not really.
David Justice received so few votes (less than 5%, OK it was 0.2%) that his name shall never be on the BBWAA ballot again for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Goose Gossage is the only inductee to Cooperstown this year. Well deserved.
Bert Blyleven's percentage of votes increased from less than 50% last year to nearly 62%, which is still more than 70 votes shy to reach the 75% required for induction. Another former Twin and World Series hero, Jack Morris had his name appear an about 43% of the balltos. Maybe next year. Both are deserving, as are Jim Rice (72%) and Andre Dawson (66%).
In what may be a telling move about the writers' view of steroids era achievements, first-timer Tim Raines polled better than sophomore Mark McGwire, both with less than 25%. McGwire received the same number of votes as he did last year.
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The Troglodyte Top Twelve 1/8/08 (Final)

Not much surprise. Lose to a team you should beat, you fall (Oklahoma, VaTech, ASU, Florida); win, rise to fill any gaps above (LSU, USC, Mizzou, Georgia, Kansas, WVU, Texas, BC); lose to a team you were not expected to beat, hold your ground (Ohio State). Unless your Hawaii. With a weak conference schedule, their inclusion in the ranking was hard to place and was in deference to their record (getting it done does matter). Georgia put to rest how real they were this year. A good team, but not Top Twelve. 
 
Related Topic:
 
I can't stand the BCS. I miss the old way: A zillion bowl games on New Year's Day and a week's worth of arguing who the best team in the country was. That said, I have to say it is a smashing success. Sure there are those who are going to clamor for something different like an eight-team playoff, a Final Four, a Plus One, a Plus-3. Whatever. "Whiners," I say.
 
Consider three things: 1.) Logically, any playoff doesn't necessarily determine the best team, it only determines the winner of the playoff, which is as aribitrary as the BCS, or its predecessor, in its naming of a national champion; 2.) Any playoff system is going to overlap with the NFL, so the idea that you can "maintain the focus on college football" that it used to have in the Good Old Days is a bit of a stretch, not to mention it makes the regular season inherently less meaningful and less interesting in the process; and 3.) More often than not, it has produced the exact same result as the NFL's Ultimate Champion Selection Process(tm): a pretty boring football game for the lead-in hype.
 
From #3, then, the answer is clear: How do you fix the alleged BCS mess? Better commercials.
 
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Monday, January 07, 2008

Penultimate Troglodyte Top Twelve... For the Record

Memorial of St. Raymond of Penafort
Happy Belated Birthdays to Troglotyke #3 and Trogling #1 (Godchild)

It doesn't make much sense to modify the Troglodyte Top Twelve on the Sidebar given the national championship is tonight, so I'll just incorporate it into a post. For those who might wonder: Just because I haven't been posting for almost two months because of my schedule doesn't mean I haven't been maintaining the ranking.

*** Sidebar

OK, confession time. I actually did have some time during the last couple of weeks (not alot), but I've spent my "wee hour" hours that I used to reserve for blogging (before basketball season started) on playing Guitar Hero, which I received for Christmas. Yeah, I'm a little sorry about that.

*** End sidebar

So here's the pre-bowl ranking (previous rankings--holy smokes--are from before Thanksgiving):

1. LSU (previous - 1)
2. Ohio State (3)
3. Oklahoma (4)
4. USC (5)
5. Virginia Tech (6)
6. Missouri (10)
7. Georgia (11)
8. Kansas (2)
9. West Virginia (7)
10. Arizona State (8)
11. Florida (--)
12. Hawaii (12)

with Illinois, Wisconsin, Clemson, Texas, and BC on the bubble.

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